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Mallrat

April 21, 2011

Hillcrest Mall was the mall. It was where I hung out as a teenager. It was where my mother took me shopping as a child.

Situated at the corner of Yonge Street and Carville Road in Richmond Hill, Hillcrest Mall was always a pretty crappy mall.

Having shopped there for as long as I can remember, I’ve seen that mall go through many changes. My earliest memories of shopping there were at the Marks & Spencer store for underpants. The K-Mart always had fun track pants and sweaters for boys. The Bay stood out in front as this monolith of class and supremacy. And the Sears at the southend played the happy medium between the Bay and K-Mart. Those were the days of the department store. This small mall had four, albeit Marks & Sparks was pretty small (located where now sits the Gap and Baby Gap and Gap Kids). The mall also had a grocery store, Zehrs or No Frills, I don’t remember. My mother only once took me into that store, Weston Produce being one stop light north of there at Weldrick Avenue. Let’s be frank here folks. Italians shopped at Weston Produce.

The mall has certainly changed a lot over the years. Sears became a Zellers then a second Bay store. K-Mart became Zellers. The grocery store became the new food court. The underground Bi-Way store and Cineplex Odeon movie theatres became a Goodlife Fitness gym.

But the best thing about Hillcrest Mall back in those days was the pair of record stores. Sam the Record Man had been there since the mall opened. It was accompanied by A&A Music. Those were the days.

A&A didn’t last forever, but when it left, Sunrise Records took it’s place. Sams gave it a really good go for a while. Even after the chain closed down, that one location stayed open as Orpheus.

In 2003, Hillcrest Mall was in full swing of upgrading it’s image. It wanted the independents out and refused to renew any leases to stores that were not franchises and chains. Orpheus was out. HMV was in.

Since 2003, Sunrise closed it doors.

A couple of nights ago, I walked through Hillcrest Mall to find HMV was boarded up.

Hillcrest Mall is now a mall without a music store.

As I think more about it, the only businesses still there from my earliest memories of Hillcrest Mall are three of the four banks, the Bay, Shoppers Drug Mart and the Bulk Barn.

And now for today’s Faggot of the Day.

Napster.

There, I said it.

Before Napster, music sales grew every year. Since Napster, they’ve declined every year. Now, the local music store is no more.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 21, 2011 2:29 pm

    No hate for iTunes?

    Oh, I got plenty of hate for iTunes. Their customer service doesn’t exist. I am able to view other iTunes Stores but am only allowed to purchase in one and each store has different products. In some cases, the track downloaded isn’t the track I purchased. At which point customer service should have, at the very least, acknowledged that I made a complaint. Want me to go on?

  2. April 21, 2011 6:12 pm

    You didn’t like Napster, huh? Too bad, I loved it when it was free back in the old days.

    And the mall by where I grew up has gone from an outdoor mall to a typical suburban mall and grown and changed a lot too.

    I like the tactile instant gratification of picking up a random record in a store

  3. jason permalink
    April 21, 2011 8:50 pm

    The smaller indies always kind of had it hard. Back in the 90s, they had to go against the HMV’s and Virgin’s of the world. Then when everything moved to online distribution, they had to worry about that too. It’s a little interesting how the real good ones have survived, when the big stores have shuttered or downsized in current times. I remember there used to be an HMV opened in NYC while I was in college, but then closed some time later. My fav large retailer in NYC was Tower Records. Knowledgeable staff, good selection of obscure bands, at the East Village location. Sadly they went bankrupt, but a lot of the indies in the East and West Village are still open. Those indies have always had a good selection of bootlegs and vinyls, and I think that’s what has kept them open.

    The stores in Toronto are either shrinking or closing. I just heard that the huge HMV in downtown Toronto is cutting itself in half.

  4. April 22, 2011 1:16 am

    I was going to say I thought iTunes was a bigger FotD than Naptster, but Wiwille beat me to it.

    Don’t forget Limewire.

    It’s the digital world now. Those things did to music stores what Kindle and ebooks are doing to bookstores.

    but napster was the first big one

  5. Riot Kitty permalink
    April 22, 2011 1:20 am

    I love music stores, and I am sad to see so many of them closing. I don’t get iTunes. I like actual CDs, with the lyrics, goofy photos and all.

    And the shrinkwrap, let’s not forget the annoying shrinkwrap

  6. April 22, 2011 11:51 am

    Wow. Even the St. Ratford mall still has a record store – CD Plus. (Or it did last time I was there…)

    I have always received excellent customer service from iTunes. And both times I needed it, it was very speedy and polite.

    The indie record stores are open downtown today.

    But they’re all the way downtown.

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